story of the summer adventures of Christof Türk in 1997
Let me tell you all my adventures of my last 8 weeks of holiday. I started with a trip to England after I finished an important examination.
let's get away
It was a bright Sunday morning when I started about 8 am my trip. That means I went to the street leading out of Isny, the small town where I am studying, towards the motor way. And there I stood at the street hoping for a car taking me the first bit of my long journey. One hour later I was still standing at the same place but this is the way it is if you are hitch - hiking. But no worries finally I got away.
This day made an amazing bit of my way - more than 600 km. I came as fare as Aachen close to the border to Belgium. This is really good if you consider that it was a Sunday which is said to be the worst day for hitch - hiking. And I needed much luck to come that fare. When it was getting dark slowly I was over 150 km from Aachen away and after nightfall you won't get any further. However in the last light of this day I asked at that station a man to give me a lift who went right to Aachen. There I arrived about 10 pm. This night I spent on a bench at the service area Aachener Land.
The next morning I got up fare way before dusk and after an refreshing shower I stood again at the street. After quit a long time a fellow stopped and said he surely would go in the right direction. Unfortunately I had no proper card to realize in time that he was not right. I ended up on the wrong way, right in the middle of Maastricht. It took me half the day to come close to the right motor way again.
At the town Luik in the southern part of Belgium the motor way from Aachen to Calais meets with the one from Maastricht to Luxembourg. I'd got a lift right into the centre of the town. Now I just had to ask for the way to the right motor way. But I was in the French part of Belgium. No body was able to speak English or German and I was unable to speak any French. There I was in the middle of an rather ordinary town I did not know at all, unable to communicate with its inhabitants.
I managed to make a man understand that I was looking for the tourist information because I though there might be some one speaking English. When I was most surprised because he took me with his car right to the tourist information. There I got a map of Luik and the direction I had to go. If I look now at this map I can not believe that I really followed this instructions because I was sent in the wrong direction. Actually in the opposite direction - towards Luxembourg
Somehow I managed to get a lift via Brussels to the north of Belgium. There I got on a truck going right to Dover. Because I went on a truck on the StenaLine ferry from Calais to Dover I not even had to pay for this.
At half past 8 in the evening of the 4th of August 1997 I set first foot on British ground. Now I just had to get a lift to London. But this was not that easy. It was about 2 o'clock in the night before I got a lift to London - to be precisely to the train station Harton Cross at Heathrow Airport. I took the first train (at 5.15 am) to get to Katharina. Katharina is a friend of Christine, a friend of mine, and was in London as au pair. Originally I had planed to do this whole trip together with Christine but when she fall in love and there was no time to go on a trip with me. However, Katharina offered me to stay with her while I was in London even if she barely knew me.
a foreign country
What shall I tell you about London this huge city with 8 million people from all over the world? I spent just 3 and a half day in London and it was exhilarating. I spent hours just walking through the city centre and enjoying the flair of that many different races. Of cause I've been to Big Ben and to Couvent Garden, too. There I even took part in a street performance. Further I've been to the Dock Lands the newest part of London as well as to Greenwich, and some more less known parts of London. In the evenings Katharina and I went to Pubs to met friends of her.
In the afternoon of August the 8th Katharina and I hitch - hiked to Cardiff the capital of Wales. It is a nice old town with a nice old castle. The night we spent at the riverside of the river Taff. It was quit a proper place except the snails which were a little bit disturbing. The next day we visited a museum about Wales (the history and nature) and the castle. In the late afternoon we went on towards Portsmouth on the south coast opposite the Isle of Wight. We were very lucky again and got a lift from Cardiff right to Portsmouth.
After a night at the beach - a stony one - we visited this little town famous because captain Cook started here with his fleet. You can visit a Navy museum if you like, and see some old sailing ships. It was a beautiful day and many more were to come. The first thing in the morning was a refreshing bath in the sea; later we visited the cathedral where an old lady told us a lot about the history of Portsmouth and this part of England. Here I said good bye to Katharina who went to the Isle of Wight while I went further westward.
all by myself
This evening I stooped in Bornemouth where I'd been several years ago when I had gone on a language course for 3 weeks. It was nice to see this town again and to wake my memories. The following day I had a typical English breakfast because I got a voucher on the back of a bus ticket. The highlight of this day was Dorchester a small and very lovely old town. Here I spent some hours strolling through the old streets.
The next day after a night in my tent on a cliff next to Charmouth I got on a truck for a long way. I got on with the driver very well and so I did not mind that we had to deliver some sand first before he went the direction I wanted to go. But this wouldn't go without difficulties. First we run into some hundred sheep coming on the side street against us. We had to wait for almost an hour. Later the streets went so narrow that I would never have thought that such a big truck could get through it.
Till this evening (8/12/97) I came as fare as Minehead on the Mouth of the Severn. Here I found on the coast a nice shelter for the night: a little house built around some benches. Later a elderly couple came along and we talked for hours about god and the world, about religions and philosophy. And at the horizon I could see the lights of Cardiff opposite.
The following day I went along the coast. There is a beautiful coastal foot path all the way along the coast - over 500 miles. I did not walk all the way. Many miles I hitch - hiked to get on faster because I had only 3 weeks all together. I really enjoyed walking all by myself, sometimes all day - just I and the breathtaking countryside. This countryside is breathtaking by both meanings: on the one hand, because it is so beautiful, high cliffs covert with little flowers in yellow and violet; on the other because the foot path, I followed, went up and down all the cliffs. Every time a little river decided to go to the sea I had to go all the way down and when clime up on the other side.
During the next days I've seen many towns and villages. It is interesting that if I think back some days I can hardly recall and from other days I know every minute. In order not to bore the reader to dead I just tell the highlights. And one of these was that very evening. I spent the night with a lovely family in Combe Martin. This was a great experience to get to know completely strange people. They just welcomed me as if we knew each other for years, and I could set up my tent in their back yard.
An other highlight was - of cause - the Atlantic Ocean. I enjoyed it very much and spent some nice hour in the waves or on the beach. One of the very beautiful villages was Tintagel. There's a very old church outside the village on a cliff, and some houses not much younger. But special about this church was that there was a flower festival. The whole inside was decorated with flowers and filled with the heavy smell of lilies. I really got drunk on it.
The weekend (16./17.8.97) I spent in Newquay a large and modern town. There was not much to look at but I went to a good service of the Anglican church and to an free concert in an other one. Interesting again was the area around St. Agnes. It is a former tin mining area and the Atlantic has a very rough coast line there.
From there I hitch - hiked on Tuesday August 19th over to Penzance (on the south coast). Along the coast I went the next 3 days to Land's End the most westerly point of the British Island. This was again a beautiful countryside with lonely bays and impressive cliffs. However, the best weather was over. I had had only the best weather jet and got already sunburned. Now it was grey all day and more and more clouds were coming from the ocean. The very day I arrived at Land's End the serious rain started.
Considering that I had only 3 or 4 more days I decided to flee the rain. I hitch - hiked with much luck the same evening some 300 km till a service area close to Bristol; and the next day past London to Maidstone. I had not expected to go on that fast and now I had time to spent the whole Saturday in Canterbury. The morning I went shopping because I had promised to bring my 'little' cousin a present, and in the afternoon I did some sightseeing. It was beautiful weather and the whole town looked very pretty.
The whole town is like a museum which every tourist has to visit. For this reason there was nothing without entrance. Even for the Cathedral of Canterbury you had to pay - with one exception: you can go free to a service. This I did in the afternoon. It was a short service with a very good choir. And afterwards I took the chance to see all of the Cathedral a magnificent building.
The next morning I had plenty of time for a bath in a shallow river and my breakfast because the service I wanted to go to wouldn't start before 11 am. This service was very good especially the sermon. It was delivered by the Dean of the Cathedral Church of the Advent, Birmingham, Alabama. His topic was the question "How can I be justified?"
After the service I got a lift to a truck service area by an 'apostle' of the New Age. This was quit an interesting man - one of many I met on my trip. This might be the most interesting thing about hitch - hiking: you'll meet many different people and you get to know every one a little bit.
At this service area I expected to stay at least till the next day to get a truck right to Germany. But already in the evening I got a lift. 21:30 the ferry left Dover and we were driving all night. Some hours I felt a sleep but spent also hours with interesting talk. The next morning at 10 am I was already short before Hannover. And I was home in Schwerin that evening (via Hamburg) and took a long and hot bath cause even if you swim every day in the Ocean after some weeks you feel really dirty.
The whole trip was very exiting and not that expensive. I spent less than 400 DM although I bought some books and presents as well. But I spent no money on accommodation and not more than 10 DM a day on foot. My diet was quit poor but it was not my plan to grow fat during this weeks. For breakfast I had some pieta bread with chocolate spread and some water. Lunch was usually a portion chips and a litre of orange juice, and dinner was a 2 pine bottle of milk with powder. That's all. You'd be surprised how little you need...
Before I started with my mum the big relatives visiting trip I spent one week home just being very lazy. During this week I met some friends I had not seen for months and some friends of mum - which I know as well - came for a cuppa, too. It was good simply to be home again and to do nothing special.
On September 2nd 1997 we visited an old aunt who's in nursing home in the next town. We went there by bike and combined this way the visit with a nice trip through the countryside of my home country. This aunt was already in her 94th year of her life, and could not get out of her bed anymore. But she was happy to see us and to hear about my England trip, and she recognized us at once.
The next day we took off to Dortmund to visit a cousin of my mum. This family as well as the one of an other cousin of my mum, we visited afterwards, did not know at all. It was a very exiting to get to know this people with quit a different way of life.
We were with mum's cousin in Dortmund from Wednesday afternoon till Friday noon. Mum's cousin, vice - headmaster of a high - school, and his wife showed us all around Dortmund, and we got an impression what the area Ruhrgebiet looks like. And the evening we spent sitting on the terrace with a good glass of vine.
The following weekend we spent with an other cousin of mum who lives in Meckenheim close to Bonn. There we were most welcome, too, and had a good time. We visited Bonn, and where in particular the House of the German History. This is a great museum of the whole German history since the end of World War II. At this museum we spent 4 hours, and to me especially the earlier parts of this history really came to live.
On Sunday we visited all together Cologne (or in German spelling Köln). It was the first time I've been there and the entire city quit interesting but especially the cathedral - the Dom - is worth a visit. We also climbed the tower to have a look around. Further we went for a walk along the river Rhine and visited an older church as well.
biking in Schleswig
After this trip to our relatives where we got really pampered my mum and I went on a bike trip to the very north of Germany, the area between North and Baltic Sea along the border to Denmark. This 8 day trip was an other part of my holiday which was in a great contrast to the rest of it. For I went with my mum she invited me, and we lived like gods. The nights we spent in youth hostels and at least once a day we eat at a restaurant.
We started in Niebüll (close to the coast of the North Sea) where we also visited the house of the famous painter Emil Nolde. From where we went eastwards via Flensburg and Schleswig to Kiel. Usually half we day we were biking and the afternoon and evening we spent with sight - seeing in the towns we spent the night. It was a trip through the flat countryside of the north of Germany with its small and lovely towns. For example are Flensburg and Schleswig very pretty with old trading houses and churches. This towns were important some centuries ago and you can still feel it. Holstein's Lake District is an other most charming place. There are several lakes - not very large - between soft hills, and the whole district is one holiday area.
During this week I had also the chance to go to the movies, and mum and I watch e.g. The 5th Element, which I really liked. This was a good contrast to all the old sights and museums we have been visiting. And last but not least we visited an old aunt of my mum on our way back to Schwerin where I had only a couple of days before leaving towards Isny again.
towards Isny again
But before I left Schwerin I had a day filled with most different feelings. First - when we arrived home - I found a card from Nicole a Taiwanese girl I got to know in Sydney and of whom I had not heart of for more than one year. This made me so happy what could not even speak about it. The way it is sometimes if you are very, very happy or very, very sad. Not a quarter of an hour later we got the news that the old aunt we had been visiting just 2 weeks ago had died. Although she was already very old and it was not unexpected, was it a little shock to me. May be in particular because I was so happy before. Well, and the same evening there was a reading by Lulu Wang. She is a Chinese author living in the Netherlands. She was reading from her new book, which I will get for Christmas - with a special dedication from her for me. During her reading I had to interpret for my mum cause it was in English. Anyway, it was a fabulous evening.
I left Schwerin on Friday the 19th of September 1997 in the afternoon after I had breakfast together with a friend who had spent the last year in Ecuador. It took me 5 days to come to Isny because I started not in southerly direction but to the North to Rostock. The weekend I spent with my aunt and in particular with my 'little' cousin Annemarie. I'm really fond of her, and her I brought also a present from England - a T-shirt with lots of little Union Jacks on it. This, too, was a great time. I told about my England trip and the holidays with mum. Further I spent some time with Annemarie. We trained her English vocabulary or went to a swimming pool and much fun together. More over I also spent some time with my aunt and uncle when we went for a walk at the coast of the autumnal Baltic Sea.
Form Rostock I went on Monday to Berlin to visit a friend I got to know in Sydney for 1 and ½ days. That evening we went to the movie Man in Black in the famous cinema Zoopalast. And the next morning we were talking for hours. In the afternoon I went alone to an very good exhibition of contemporary German artists and painters. Afterwards I went through Berlin the big building site, and I missed my train. Fortunately there was a later but very special one. I took the InterCityNight the rolling hotel. I had to pay a little extra and got a sleeping armchair. It was a most relaxing journey and in the morning I there was even a big cup of tea included.
Well, on September 24th 1997 I arrived back in Isny and the next week my lectures started again. I hope you did enjoy reading all this and if you like I will tell you the story of my next adventures as well.